In 2007, Alenty was the first company in the world that succeeded in actually measuring whether or not online ads are viewable. I knew from first sight that this was a very important concept for the advertising industry.
(Photo: AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley welcomes Laurent to the team by presenting an AppNexus employee backpack.)
In 2008 and 2009, we found our first clients—agencies and publishers—and reached our break even point.
Very quickly, however, I discovered that ad-viewability was more difficult to sell than I first thought. When 50% of billions of dollars is wasted, it should be a no-brainer. But because of the size of this market, many players were reluctant to embrace such a radical change. I knew that for ad-viewability to ultimately succeed, the market would need to not only measure, but also optimize to it.
In 2010, we started to hear about programmatic media buying. I quickly thought: if people are reluctant to change, machines and algorithms will not have such constraints.
So, we saw ad exchanges as a great opportunity for Alenty. We invested heavily in R&D to make our ad-viewability measurement work for RTB. For instance, we had to finally solve the iframes measurement challenge.
Building our own RTB platform was not an option. But AppNexus’ open APIs gave us the opportunity to enter this market with a level of investment that was sustainable for a small, unfunded company like Alenty.
To my knowledge, Alenty developed the first creative app on AppNexus in early 2012.
We are compatible with the other platforms, of course. But the Alenty app on AppNexus makes our technology so easy to use that we saw our client base on AppNexus grow faster than on the other platforms.
With the ad exchanges, we moved from ad-viewability reporting to optimization. We found that more and more clients were not simply looking at our data but they were actually using it to feed their algorithms.
As it became more operational, ad-viewability started to get its real value.
At the same time, the IAB started to promote viewable impressions. With its MRC accreditation, and a 98% success rate, Alenty clearly became the worldwide leader.
Some challenges remained, though. Fraud became a buzzword, and Alenty’s response to this question has always been the same: bot detection is included into ad-viewability measurement. A viewable impression must actually be viewed by a human.
Another challenge is the link between ad-viewability and direct response performance indicators like conversions. Many studies have proved this link: a non-viewable impression cannot influence Internet users to convert. But using ad-viewability to improve performance requires a deeper integration.
In 2012, I had a short but productive 30 second conversation with Brian O’Kelly, CEO of AppNexus. We both immediately understood the synergies between our two companies.
With a growing base of common clients and deeper integration of our tools in AppNexus’ platform, it became obvious that we needed to go one step further.
Finally, meetings with many people from AppNexus convinced us that there was a perfect fit: our technologies and people are 100% compatible. Even though we speak French and AppNexians speak English, we speak the same language!
A lot of great projects are ahead of us. We at Alenty are very proud and excited to join the AppNexus team. Our common ambition is to continue to revolutionize the advertising market.